Today’s law enforcement agencies seek a new breed of officers which intends to bring a balance of brawn and brains (Hess & Orthmann, 2008). However this task could be involving, it is rather important for those agencies to retain those officers who possess not only the physical qualities associated with law enforcement, such as strength and endurance but also those officers with the required skills to deal with people (Hess & Orthmann, 2008). High retention rates in law enforcement agencies have a positive impact on the organizational reputation which in turn makes good business. Loosing high performers can have a negative impact on the law enforcement agency because of incurring extra costs of recruiting and training other officers. In this context it is fundamental that the agencies maintain high levels of employee retention.
Law enforcement agencies cannot force their employees to remain in the employment. However some situations dictate that these agencies retain some of their employees at work. This can be done in order to provide protection and safety for the job these officers handle. Besides that, retention is done to reduce issues related to customer management and customer retention. If situations related to employee exit from the agency are predicted it is important that the management of the agency puts down all this clauses in the employee contract and agreement terms.
Due to the ever changing demands of working environments it should be noted that not all turnovers are bad and that some occur because of reasons the management is not responsible for while others they are unable to control. Management of law enforcement firms should focus on addressing issues related to employee retention in order to reduce frustrations related to unexpected job exits. The turnover rate should also help the senior officers to figure out if or not the agency is doing something that is driving the employees away.
In the last decade Law enforcement agencies have experienced numerous of changes. The profession has become very dynamic as it is with other professions. Hess & Orthmann (2008) stated that “the force behind the professionalization of the police officer is the realization that to a large degree the future success of law enforcement is contingent on its police officers quality and effectiveness” (p. 438).
The importance of retaining officers in these agencies is a very critical part which cannot be overlooked. Blau (1994) stated that “policing is a tough and demanding profession because they have to take a lot of abuse and disappointment in addition to the danger, the boredom, and the injustice that they all come to know” (p. 27). As a result a number of good officers drop out of job after they are fully experienced, because of the problems and difficulties which outweigh the benefits of these law enforcement officers (Blau, 1994).
Law enforcement officers enter the profession to help people. However, Blau (1994) notes that some officers by the end of five years have the experience of being a significant intervener or participant in many useful or critical circumstances. He continues to state that those officers who continue and make a lifelong career of policing are motivated by the specialness of the most secret society within which they function (Blau, 1994).
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Although it has been frequently denied either directly or with characteristic about law enforcement officer’s humor, it has been noted that they continue to be motivated by playing the role of my brother’s keeper (Blau, 1994). As a result they are viewed by the community as part of the thin blue line that separates civilization from the criminal jungle (Blau, 1994).
In addition Blau (1994) found out that “most law enforcement agencies have a fairly rigid chain of command” (p. 37). This therefore is the most challenging task which makes retaining of employees a fairly hard task to manage. The chain of command as mentioned by Blau focuses on police productivity as a function of people productivity (1994). Therefore management of people is the prime focus of the police executive. Much of emphasis should be on increasing the morale of personnel, communication, motivation, group dynamics and leadership skills.
3.0 Research on employee retention
3.1 Factors affecting employee retention
Retaining policies should be determined ahead of time and made clear to all personnel when they will be exercised (Lewis, 2006).This are important aspects in the law enforcement agencies because they dictate how long an employee is supposed to serve. With these policies in place the law enforcement agencies are assured of little embarrassments resulting from unexpected employee exits.
Employee retention refers to how many of the current employees stick around the company or organization over a given period of time (Carsen, 2005). Contrary to the benefits that come with retention of employee’s high retention rate is not necessary a good thing. Carsen (2005) gives the reason that it can extend to retaining poor performers, and also unhappy employees who feel trapped in their jobs because of finances, inertia and a sense of obligation.
Maximizing the retention of good employees in a law enforcement agency means that the agency wants to keep a considerable number of good employees because they want to but not because they have to (Carsen, 2005). However, Carsen (2005) indicated that “sometimes people leave for reasons beyond the control of the management” (p. 2). He also continues to say that the management can do a lot to encourage employees to stay within the agency and be happy and productive over a long period of time (Carsen, 2005).
In addition, Carsen (2005) established that retention involves wedding out the underperformers to free up space and resources for the high achievers. It is beneficial to put the retention policy in such a way that it focuses on losing the losers and keeping the keepers (Carsen, 2005). The law enforcement agency should realize that the cost of replacing employees but at the end it is generally expensive.
3.2 Factors contributing to low retention rates in law enforcement agencies
Taylor & Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2002) noted that poor management in law enforcement agencies could lead to difficulties in maintaining good officers. Taylor, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2002) also indicated that “inconsistency arises when supervisors are promoted or moved internally to work with special groups” (p. 234) as a result this leads to confusion and lack of continuity in the law enforcement agency.
Patterns of work are also an issue in retaining officers in these agencies. Taylor& Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2002) maintained that shift patterns, number of hours worked and lack of flexible working is a significant cause of high turnovers (p. 234). Apart from this factor career progression and development is important in the retention of good officers in a law enforcement agency. According to Taylor, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2002) fundamental career progression and development is access to training opportunities.
Job dissatisfaction and low morale among the officer can contribute to high rates of turnover. Taylor & Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2002) therefore argued that workplace culture can result to difficulties in retaining the employees. In these agencies colleagues are expected to work together and support one another in all circumstances. When officers start complaining about the conduct or poor performance of colleagues this can cause a person to be ostracized to an extent of leaving the job.
3.3 What agencies can do achieve employee retention
Mathis & Jackson (2007) mentioned that a number of the agencies characteristics influence law enforcement in their decisions to stay with or leave their employers. They thus said it is important for companies to have a positive culture and distinctive culture, effective management and recognizable job security Mathis & Jackson (2007). According to Mathis & Jackson (2007) culture within an enforcement agency is very significant because it represents a pattern of shared values and beliefs of a workforce. In law enforcement agencies executives should build a truth telling culture and in turn they also get a frank feedback hence they can succeed in improving retention.
Job security is very important when encouraging the culture of employee retention. Mathis & Jackson (2007) commented that all the downsizing, layoffs, mergers and acquisitions have affected employee loyalty and retention. When employees are not assured of their job security, it becomes rather a challenging issue for them to remain in the same company when there a rise chances which present ideal job security. On the other hand Mathis & Jackson (2007) established that companies in which job continuity and security are high tend to have higher retention rates.
Mathis & Jackson (2007) also established that another important factor of ensuring that retention is focusing on job to person match as well as job design. This is very important especially in law enforcement agencies. It the law enforcement officers do not fit in to their jobs well they are likely to look for other employment hence retention is affected by the selection process (Mathis & Jackson, 2007). Employees also are keen to work in a safe work environment, in which risks of accidents and injuries have been addressed. This is an important factor in law enforcement agencies because being a risk job employees want to be assured of their security.
Carsen maintained that there are two ways to view employee retention; firstly retention can be viewed as a component of an overall employer- of- choice strategy and retention techniques (2005). He continues to say that trendy retention technique may be somewhat effective but they require constant manipulation and updating to keep them current (Carsen, 2005). A better approach as mentioned by Carsen (2005) is to “implement strategies that infuse the entire agency for example with a high retention mindset, creating a culture that employees cannot easily be enticed to leave” (p.10).
There are several characteristics of high retention culture, defined in terms of what employees want. These attributes can be applied in law enforcement agency in order to ensure that agency retains its most valuable officers. Firstly the law enforcement agency should have a clearly defined organizational direction and purpose (Carsen, 2005). The main purpose of this attribute is that officers will always want to work for an organization that has purpose and meaning. Carsen (2005) continues to say that “employees should be aligned with the mission of the company, in order to nurture a more dedicated and productive staff” (p. 10).
Another key attribute in employee retention is caring management. Carsen says that this attribute is all about the relationship (2005). This means that the quality of an employee relationship with his immediate supervisor is one of the greatest predictors of employee satisfaction and result to retention (Carsen, 2005). As result law enforcement agencies demand such type of management and mutual relationship between the officers and their supervisors.
Flexibility in scheduling and benefits is another key attribute in employee retention. Carsen (2005) indicated that “employees demand flexibility in their jobs because their lives demand it” (p. 11). In such cases most employees will remain within an agency or a company which guarantees flexibility. Also Carsen (2005) established that “schedule changes, fixed shifts, time offs for personal matters and other work life and family friendly initiatives are effective retention strategies” (p. 11). These strategies are applicable to law enforcement agencies and they can help the companies to retain their officers.
Open and straightforward communication is another key strategy that can be used in a law enforcement agency. Carsen (2005) indicated that “high retention workplaces provide a constant communication loop” (p. 11). Carsen also says that one should never be afraid to remind the employees the advantages for working for that particular agency (2005). The agency should go a step further to explore and use various communication methods for example focus groups, online databases, hotlines and attitude surveys. All managers should make good communication a priority and keep track of their progress in this area (Carsen, 2005).
Carsen (2005) in his research established that energetic and enthusiastic work environment plays an important role in employee retention. It is important to know if the employees enjoy their work. Carsen (2005) continues to say that “if one can make the work mentally engaging and physically energizing employees are more likely to stay” (p. 11). An effective performance appraisal is another important attribute in employee retention. Carsen (2005) maintains that “effective performance appraisals help align individual behaviors and performance with the organization’s goals” (p. 12). Stimulating and reinforcing behaviors that align with the company’s meaning and purpose creates a sense of belonging hence encouraging the culture of employee retention.
Rewards and recognition coupled with employee training and development play a significant role in the retention of employees. Carsen (2005) continues to say that using rewards and recognition people need to feel valued and appreciated. The major question which the management of the agency should ask is what it has been doing to effectively value its law enforcement officers (Carsen, 2005).
Training and development on the other hand is also important factor in ensuring employee retention. According to Carsen (2005) workers in a law enforcement agency will want an opportunity to develop their skills and enhance their company contributions (p. 12). Carsen (2005) also stated that “training and development give people a better control and ownership of their jobs and contribute to increased loyalty and retention” (p. 11).
Law enforcement agencies should consider paying their officers competitive wages. Carsen (2005) says that while decent is never sufficient on its own to keep employees around the company, it is a necessary baseline step for getting ones foot to retention door. Raising pay as mentioned by Carsen (2005) “will not automatically lower turnover, but paying too little and especially during periods of unemployment will contribute to it” (p. 12).
Carsen (2005) says that championing longevity is also a key attribute that will encourage the culture of retaining good employees. Carsen (2005) established that employees appreciate a company that honors long service. Signing bonuses may make sense in tight labor markets, smart organizations should also recognize and reward employees whose continued service is valued (Carsen, 2005).
Employee respect according to Carsen (2005) plays a significant role in employee retention. This means that individualized work sites, supportive relationships with peers and superiors and job specific training are some of the techniques employers can use to strengthen their relationship with employee.
Carsen (2005) says that retention bonuses can be used to promote employees. For example Carsen (2005) says that during mergers, acquisitions plant closures, financial difficulties- more companies are giving retention bonuses to key to employees to encouraged continued employment.
Employee empowerment can also play an important role of retention (Bell, Zemke & Zielinski, 2007). This is because many people in organizations are capable of doing so much than they have been asked to do. Bell, Zemke & Zielinski (2007) therefore said that the more ownership they assume for the responsibilities built into their job the more likely they are to stay with the company (p. 24).
4.0 Implementing an employee retention program
4.1 Detailed discussion of the specific program (strategic accountability program)
The program which I will use is called strategic accountability process. This program has yielded good results for several companies in terms of employee retention. Phillips & Connell (2003) said that the strategic accountability program can be used in both retention and assisting employees in growth and development. The strategic accountability program requires equitable treatment of all the employees and accountability (Phillips & Connell, 2003).
The strategic accountability program is an individualized development plan for each employee (Phillips & Connell, 2003). In this model each employee is given an individualized development plan to support his or her career development in which he is accountable. This was program was implemented by South Corridor Bank and it yielded positive results for the bank.
4.2 Objectives of the program
The strategic accountability program according to Phillips & Connell (2003) considers the retention issue to be an important part of the program strategy. The objective of this program is to measure the retention issues with bottom line results where accountability is incorporated throughout the process. Another objective of this approach is to provide employee empowerment. Empowerment results from of the level of accountability accorded to the employees.
4.3 The steps involved in strategic accountability program
This program goes through eight steps: The first step involves measuring and monitoring turnover rate. The second step involves developing a fully loaded cost of turnover. The third step involves diagnosing the causes and needs for retention in order to establish which factors to put in to consideration. The first three steps should involve a detailed research in which among others one will examine the causes of employee turnover. The fourth step should involve exploring the range of available solutions which can be applied to curb the problem of employee turnover. At this step one is supposed to explore the available options which the company should implement to encourage employee retention.
The fifth step according to Phillips & Connell (2003) should involve matching the solutions to the identified needs. In this step the management should be prepared to make a choice of which model of employee retention to put in place. The sixth step as indicated by Phillips & Connell (2003) is to forecast on the value of solutions chosen. This is done so that the company can predict and evaluate if the retention model will be viable and sustainable in the future.
The seventh step involves calculating the return on investment of the strategic accountability program. This evaluation is important because it helps the company to determine if the company is gaining from investing in the retention program (Phillips & Connell, 2003). The final step in the strategic accountability program is to make adjustments and monitor the effectiveness of the program.
4.4 The steps I will go through to make my plan into existence
The strategic accountability approach is simple by design but comprehensive to execute. The steps which I will use to implement employee retention program in the company will go through three phases. Each paragraph below discusses a phase on how the plan will be implemented. In order to ensure success design and implementation of the plan it will encompass communication up and down the value chain. I will involve my supervisor, his supervisor and the other officers in the management of the law enforcement agency. In order to minimize failure the after implementation the design will involve input from junior officers down the hierarchy of the law enforcement agency.
4.4.1 Conducting a basic research within the agency
The first phase as indicated by Zeiss & Anthony (2005) will involve conducting a basic research. In this step will study the literature review of the agency and determine the history of the law enforcement unit. At the same time I will go ahead and conduct a company specific research which will go along with the review of literature (Zeiss & Anthony, 2005). After these two steps interpretation of the research will be done. The importance of this section is to establish the employment history of the agency as well as the history of employees in their profiles of previous in the past years. The basic research will give insight information of the law enforcement agency.
4.4.2 Designing retention activities for the agency
The second phase of putting the plan into use will be designing retention activities of the agency (Zeiss & Anthony, 2005). In this process a review of several activities will be done. This process will help the management of the law enforcement agency to ensure that it recruits the right employees. After that I will design and implement professional development programs (Zeiss & Anthony, 2005). The purpose of this program will be to promote career development. The program will include training and development of employees work skills. The next step in this phase will involve designing and implementing employee motivation strategies (Zeiss & Anthony, 2005).
In this section an important aspects such as job design, matching, improving the working environment, reviewing pay schemes within the agency for the officers, rewards and recognition, improving communication, job flexibility and schedules, bonuses among others will be implemented. In addition this phase will involve designing and implementing leadership training. This is to ensure that the management of the law enforcement agency is updated with the current trends in the employment sector.
4.4.3 Evaluating, monitoring and adjusting the strategic accountability program
The third and the final phase will involve evaluating, monitoring and adjusting the employee retention plan in place (Zeiss & Anthony, 2005). Evaluation will seek to establish if the retention plan is yielding benefits to the agency. Mostly evaluation will be done by supervisors and other senior staff in the law enforcement agency. Monitoring on the other hand will establish if after putting the plan in place there are turnovers or if there are improvements. It is important for every person in the value chain hierarchy to monitor the progress of the plan. Adjustments within the plan will be done based which areas need to be corrected or improved. For example further reviews of job schedules and payments of wages and salaries can be adjusted to improve the retention plan. Adjustments can also be done regularly depending on the demands of the organization.
4.4.4 Marketing plan
It is important to have a marketing plan after designing the retention program of the agency. The purpose of this plan will be to create awareness about the existence of the retention program and also to measure the effectiveness of the program. The marketing plan show how all the stakeholders will participate in implementing the employee retention program in the law enforcement agency. In this case the plan will entail how the officers will participate in ensuring that a working version of the program is implemented.
4.4.5 My supervisor
The purpose of my supervisor in the marketing plan will be to provide the required guidelines on how to structure the marketing plan. My supervisor will work hand in hand with me to ensure that all the information required for successful implementation of the marketing plan is obtained. He or she will communicate will his supervisor and other stakeholders in establishing the influence of the plan. My supervisor will create a linkage with other departments in the agency to ensure that the objectives of the marketing plan are achieved.
4.4.6 His Supervisor
The role of the supervisors in the marketing plan is to ensure that the agency achieves the highest degree of integration between the program and the officers. The supervisors will reexamine the employee retention goals within the agency in detail. They will also establish the target levels of retention and also determine if the program is viable. The marketing plan at this level of the value chain will help them determine the impact upon achievement of the employee retention goals in the agency.
4.4.7 Other officers
At this level of the value chain the officers will help in evaluating the effectiveness of the program. Using the marketing plan the officers will give their feedback to the supervisors explaining which areas need to be adjusted in the plan. The feedback can be obtained through the use of questionnaires and filling feedback forms. These officers will be actively involved in the implementation of the plan in areas such as training and development, job matching, scheduling of their jobs and payment models.
4.5 What I will do to evaluate to see if the objectives were met
In order to ensure that the objectives of retaining officer in the law enforcement agency are met I will do an evaluation of the programs performance. Evaluation in this case is very important when investigating the effectiveness of the strategic accountability program. It will involve a detailed analysis and calculation of the programs cost. According to Phillips & Connell (2003) analysis will indicate the percentage of employee turnover after implementing of the employee retention plan. Phillips & Connell (2003) continue to say that calculations should be done of the annual and projected values for the total benefits for a certain period of time after putting the plan in place. I will capture different scenarios such as return on investment (ROI) and benefits/ costs ratio within a period of for example one or two years.
During this period of monitoring and evaluation I will ensure that that both administration and operations departments will be ongoing and involved to give timely feedback. I will also involve evaluation costs and represent it in developing the impact of the retention program (Phillips & Connell, 2003). I will ensure that return on investment in the agency is calculated based on the agreement between supervisors and senior staff. For example this will be based on a two year monetary benefits which will be combined with benefits /cost ratio. The benefit/ cost ratio could be for example showing that for every $1 invested in the retention plan, $4 are returned (Phillips & Connell 2003). On the other hand return on investment should be calculated in a way that it will indicate for every dollar invested how much are the returns. Phillips & Connell (2003) therefore indicated that “return on investment is only one measure and therefore it should be considered in conjunction with other measures” (p. 344).
In conclusion employee retention should provide a positive impact in the performance of the law enforcement agency. Max & Bacal (2004) argued that in order achieve the objectives of employee retention, law enforcement agencies should “ensure that key, valuable employees are identified by their supervisors and retained at a rate of at least 90%” (p. 71). They also should also ensure that the behavior of supervisors does not contribute to above average turnover rates. Max & Bacal (2004) also summarized that companies “should provide sufficient work challenges for high potential employees to rate at least 4 out of 5 for work challenges” (p. 71). The law enforce agency should also research salaries to ensure that offers are attractive retain its officers and also address organizational issues that may contribute to above average turnover rates (Max & Bacal, 2004).
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